Discoveries of the deep

Discoveries of the deep

2010 marked the completion of the Census of Marine Life and introduces the world to the most comprehensive collection of data on marine life to date
January 17, 2011
Kolga hyalina, a deep-sea sea cucumber from the
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Kolga hyalina, a deep-sea sea cucumber from the Arctic Canada Basin. Sea cucumbers act like a vacuum, sucking up recently settled food particles from the sea floor.
Bodil Bluhm, Institute of Marine Science

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the planet. Hidden beneath them is an entire world we know very little about, a world of undersea mountain ranges and ocean basins that play host to hundreds of thousands of underwater species. In the late 1990s, marine scientists expressed their concern with this lack of knowledge and understanding of the ocean’s inhabitants. They wanted to know about the diversity of life in the oceans, its distribution and its abundance. And over the next decade, as issues of climate change, fish stock depletion and pollution emerged in earnest, these questions proved to be increasingly important to answer.

An unidentified colourful glass sponge (Porifera
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An unidentified colourful glass sponge (Porifera - Hexactinellida) is an active filter feeder that lives primarily on bacteria and is found in deep water off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
ROPOS / DFO 2010

In 2000, the Census of Marine Life was established with the goal of spending a decade collecting and analyzing as much information about ocean life as possible. In October 2010, after 540 expeditions led by 2,700 scientists from more than 80 countries, including 224 Canadians, the Census of Marine Life was officially wrapped up.

A pelagic sea slug, probably Clione limacina, is
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A pelagic sea slug, probably Clione limacina, is a quick swimmer and an active marine carnivore, preying almost exclusively on pelagic snails.

Comprised of websites, books, videos, maps, graphs and databases, the census is a robust collection of data on ocean life. The census has increased the estimate of marine species from approximately 230,000 to almost 250,000 and has amassed a stunning collection of images of some of new, old or rarely documented species. Many of these mysterious creatures live in some of the world’s most hostile environments where there is no light and no air, and where temperatures can either melt metal or freeze seawater.

The benthic octopus Graneledone verrucosa off the
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The benthic octopus Graneledone verrucosa off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It lives in the North Atlantic, most commonly between 1,000 and 2,000 metres deep. It can reach up to 50 centimetres in length.
ROPOS / DFO 2010

Here, we present a selection of some of these fascinating creatures of the deep found in and around Canadian waters.

Goniada spp. is a group of polychaete worms that
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Goniada spp. is a group of polychaete worms that are considered to be predatory feeders. They have a muscular pharynx that can be forcefully turned inside out to capture prey.